Dr. Carrie Baylard Eidson
Helping Your Children Survive Divorce
On your wedding day, you never thought your marriage could end in divorce. You planned on spending the rest of your life with your new spouse, growing old together, having children, building a future together. On that night, you could never imagine anything breaking up this sacred union.
Then as the children are born, the family dynamics change, finances have to include the needs of the children along with you and your spouse. Maybe life dreams have to be put on hold until the children get a little older. Maybe you find that you and your spouse have less time to spend as a couple to keep your relationship fresh and growing. As much as you love your children and wouldn’t trade them for the world, being a parent takes time, effort, patience, planning, and work. Unless you and your spouse regularly communicate on all things that affect your life together and carve time to be just a couple, your marriage could suffer.
If you find that for any reason your marriage is just not going to work and you both agree to get a divorce, the one thing you want to do correctly is ensure that your children emotionally, physically, and socially survive it. It does not matter if your children are preschool age or adults, divorce of the parents will affect them the rest of their lives. Your job as a parent, is to help minimize these effects so your children can develop healthy relationships as they get older and eventually get married.
Below are some things that you can do to help your children survive the divorce:
- Both parents should sit down together to explain to the children that they are getting a divorce.
- Assure the children that the divorce is NOT the children’s fault in any way. Explain that sometimes two parents cannot get along or are unhappy living together, but that does not effect the love they have for each child. Explain that loving a child is for life, no matter if both parents live together or not.
- Never, never, never put down the other spouse in front of the children. This only makes the children feel even sadder and more depressed or even angry about the situation.
- No matter how mad you may be at your spouse, only say good things about your spouse to your children.
- Make sure your family and your spouse’s family only say good things about you and your spouse to your children. This is very important!
- Make sure you and your spouse make every effort to keep visitation going with both sides of grandparents, aunts, and uncles. Your children need to know that the only thing changing is that their parents will not be living in the same house together. Grandparent relationships with grandchildren are extremely important in the life of a child!
- Try to have the same rules and routines at each spouse’s home so the children know that mom and dad have the same expectations.
- Do not try to be the “Knight in Shining Armor” parent, letting the children have their way all the time or letting them think it is vacation time when they visit.
- Do not try to compensate for a spouse moving out by buying your children more toys or taking them to more entertainment places. Keep doing what you did prior to the divorce to keep their daily lives running smoothly.
- Practice compromise with regard to visitation. If dad or mom cannot have the children on their scheduled day, be agreeable to change the day without a fuss.
- Allow your children to call you or your spouse each night just to talk about their day. Do not allow them to complain about the spouse they are living with just because that spouse told them “no” on something they want to buy or go to.
- Make sure you and your spouse talk over all items and issues regarding your children’s education, religion, activities, feelings, etc. Continue to be a united front for them.